HMP Five Wells, Wellingborough

Project team

Client:Ministry of Justice

Main Contractor:Kier

Concrete Contractor:Bison Precast, FP McCann and Banagher

The new build prison at Wellingborough is the first prison announced in the 2016 Prison Safety and Reform White Paper, supporting the ambition of creating a reformed estate that will be less crowded, better organised, more effective and comprise modern, fit-for-purpose accommodation.

The buildings feature windows with no bars and smaller wings, holding just 20 men, in line with the MoJ’s commitment to building a rehabilitative environment.

Nine of the buildings at HMP Five Wells have been designed to make extensive use of precast concrete construction, incorporating 15,183 precast panels plus more than 60,000 sub-components. The precast components for cell doors, walls and flooring have all been optimised to avoid follow-on work as far as possible. For each cell, M&E utility conduits and points have been cast-in, and shower trays are also cast into the floor units. All this reduces on-site trades and will improve serviceability and security.

A core feature of the programme is to optimise how the MoJ’s assets are designed, procured, delivered and operated, through a Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) or ‘kit-of-parts’ approach.

Circa 80% of the design for Wellingborough has been standardised, leaving just 20% as site-specific design. This means that the component assemblies designed for Wellingborough can and will be used on subsequent MoJ prison projects, leveraging economies of scale.

BIM data sets were used, created from the DfMA component library, to refine the design for some of the highest impact elements of the programme, such as the houseblocks.

The design team optimised the DfMA component library by reducing the number of precast concrete components by almost 50%, providing a programme saving of 18.5 crane weeks per houseblock. The project team made extensive use of digital technology, including BIM, drone flights and robotics as well as close collaboration of the full design team to increase productivity.

The resulting programme allowed for around 420–460 precast components to be installed per week, approximately 18–22 deliveries to site per day and seven crawler cranes on-site to build the ‘kit-of-parts’ prison.

HMP Five Wells, Wellingborough Prison won the ‘Best use of Concrete Technology’ award at the 2020 Offsite Awards.